The Eastside

The Eastside

The Eastside is related to the Southside cocktail. It’s light, refreshing and a bit dainty, albeit delicious, on a hot New Orleans day. It’s a classic mint and citrus cocktail with a nice cucumber addition.

While simple to make don’t be surprised at how quickly they are consumed:

(Prepare in a shaker)east
2 ounces gin (Bombay Sapphire isn’t bad)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 to 3/4 ounce simple syrup
3 mint sprigs
3 cucumber slices

Muddle 2 mint sprigs with 2 cucumber slices. Add the gin, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake and strain over cracked ice. Add a slice of cucumber and that last sprig of mint as garnish.

Enjoy!

The Martini

The Martini

Some have called it the “king of cocktails”. Everyone has heard of it and there are many versions of it out there. Many are arguably not true “martinis”. There are sweet versions of the martini and there are savory versions of it. My first martinis were of the savory variety. A dry, straight up, dirty martini is a great thing but after a little research I think I have found something even better. This is one of the first original martini recipes and in my opinion the best:

1.5 oz London Dry Gin
1.5 oz French vermouth
4-5 dashes of orange bitters
thin cut slice of orange peel

For the gin in this cocktail I really like Bombay Sapphire and for the vermouth I generally use Noilly Prat Dry. I use Fee Brothers bitters but others would be fine. Simply combine the first 3 ingredients in a shaker with cracked ice and shake, straining into a chilled martini or coupe glass. Add the orange peel and have a sip of this very different and refreshing cocktail.

Bar Tonique

This is my home for drinking out in NOLA. The cocktails are classic and the ingredients are fine and fresh. No corn syrup and artificial flavors here. The vibe is chill and kind of dingy, yet somehow classy and lounge-y. Cool bartenders that know their stuff and the music is on, edgy indie rock and alternative. I’ve heard the Pixies and Mission of Burma in here. My two favorite drinks are house-designed recipes. Frenchmen’s Dark and Stormy, Tonique’s take on a classic, and the in-house invented Blanche Dubois, which I believe won a prize at Tales of the Cocktail. The Frechmen’s Dark and Stormy is fantastic, with a homemade ginger base that is limey tart and has tons of ginger bite. Blanche is a lovely pink strawberry lemony thing with gin that somehow tastes like pink grapefruit even though it does not have any in it. Nary a soda gun in this place. Hang out here enough and you might meet a rock star or a Hollywood celeb…or not..the drinks and bartenders are rock star enough.

Spotlight on Ingredients: Ginger

Most often found in Asian cuisine and higher end soda pop, ginger has also become a go-to addition to craft cocktails. For a brilliant display of ginger’s peppery powers, one look no further than the Dark and Stormy, where the pure essence of ginger is brilliantly featured. For best results in any cocktail, fresh ginger should first be liquified in a juicer. It doesn’t always yield a lot, so have plenty on hand. For optimal use, mix the freshly pressed ginger “juice” with fresh made simple syrup, and bottle some ahead for a refreshing cocktail with a kick at a moment’s notice.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz at Tonique in NOLA

Glorious Ramos head at Bar Tonique.

You never forget your first time, so they say. And they’re usually right. Such is the tale of my very first encounter with a cocktail whose very name exposed me as a novice to the wonders of the Ramos Gin Fizz. After butchering the name to my long-suffering bartender at the Olde Absinthe House, she seemed to take a little delight in informing me that it called for a raw egg white, and wanted to know if I was allergic.Hold the phone…

I’m not an egg nog drinker. I don’t even like my eggs runny, just scrambled all the way. So why would I want to drink a funky sounding drink that I couldn’t even pronounce with confidence, and which advertised a raw egg as its feature ingredient? Well luckily, my bartender that day was very persuasive, as was my disdain for just another run of the mill liquor/mixer/half-expired fruit garnish concoction, so I took a chance, and it changed my whole perception of what a cocktail could, and should, be.

It turns out, the Ramos Gin Fizz is one of the oldest cocktails, and as luck would have it, it had allegedly been created less than a half-mile from my barstool by one Henry Ramos back in 1888. The historical gravity alone did enhance my experience that day, as did the irresistible combination of flavors and textures which danced around on my tongue. It literally tasted like soda shop nostalgia to me. It turns out my eggophobia (not a fear of waffles, or a real word, for that matter) was very misguided and foolish, because it really steals the show. A seasoned bartender will shake the ingredients senseless with the egg white gyrating alongside the various citrus juices and heavy cream, frothing up into a splendid meringue if done with enough patience and gusto. One need only add soda water(preferably straight from a classic fountain-style soda dispenser from a Norman Rockwell print rather than the aggressive soda gun-on-a-tentacle found in most bars and restaurants), and magic happens, as the slow soda influx transforms the meringue into an Everest-like glacier which creeps slowly to the top of the glass and beyond, waiting to nestle your straw. A loving drop or two of the even more indispensable orange flower water onto the fluffy top brings the drink home to the heavens.

Since that fateful day, I’ve settled into my favorite Ramos yet, and it’s hard to beat. With 9(!) ingredients, Bar Tonique’s Ramos is as classic and true as you’ll find, and they take the time to get it right. I don’t even try to order it anymore if the bar is too packed, because I know it can really put the brakes on the bartender’s flow with its many needs and nuances. I’ve been to several bars since, some storied in their own right, and none has matched Tonique’s, although Cure’s comes close, and their unrequired but totally welcome orange peel garnish is an aromatic addition. Avoid the Ramos if you even sniff the prospect of vanilla as an ingredient, as some misguided soul felt that this was an acceptable addition over time; it is not acceptable, really, unless you want a Vanilla Gin Fizz, which doesn’t, and shouldn’t, exist.

So drop any egg squeamishness you might harbor and take a trip through time, and order a Ramos Gin Fizz next time you see it on a menu at your favorite watering hole. Ramos rhymes with Stamos, as in John Stamos, just so you know.

 

Ramos Gin Fizz
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Ingredients
1.75 oz Gin
3 tsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
.75 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. heavy cream
1 egg white
2-4 drops orange flower water to taste (add final drops to meringue at the end)
soda water
Instructions
Mix all ingredients with ice, except the soda water, and shake furiously until a creamy froth ensues. Strain into a tall Collins-style glass. Slowly add soda water until head emerges from top of glass, as far as it can without spilling over. Add additional drops of orange flower water to taste. Drink with a straw, unless you like a milk mustache!
Adapted from Bar Tonique
Adapted from Bar Tonique
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